Sound — 8
One great thing about the post-hardcore scene is that it's extremely similar in a way to professional sports as musicians can float between different bands. The average person would think such constant change could destroy a collective group, but for this particular genre, it has been known to improve artists and their talents and increase their exposure. For most cases, in a positive way. Exhibit A is The Word Alive. Having issued an extended play in 2009, the group was led by frontman Tyler "Telle" Smith to write an oddly impressive debut. His talent and experience (former member of acts like Emarosa, In Fear And Faith and Greeley Estates) is illuminated throughout the disc. But like most metalcore acts, the Phoenix six-piece can't seem to grasp the branch called "unique". Opening tracks "The Hounds Of Anubis" and "Epiphany" swirl spiderweb guitar licks with carnivorous vocals and a menacing kick behind the drum kit but don't leave listeners searching for their teeth after being kicked in the mouth. Part of the reason could be due to producer Andrew Wade's efforts as though Deceiver has a tough exterior, its innards are lined with experimental rock melodies giving it a pop feel semi-hardcore fans can stomach. Stitching together the fluffiness inside is a raw power and sound The Word Alive perspire without any awkwardness.
Lyrics — 7
Smith's vocal strength is outlined with a highlighter that is The Word Alive's first EP Empire. The musician's gut-wrenched scream tried to dance with the bands brash anthem-sized sound but tripped, no matter how hard it tried. On Deceiver, it has learnt from its mistakes as Smith's voice is wrapped in piercing breakdowns that propel his voice to the center of your attention ("Like Father Like Son", "We Know Who You Are"). The clean vocals on the otherhand appear forced (cue "Consider It Mutual" and "2012") and when tied with simple lyrics, it doesn't scratch your ears or your brain the way it should as it staples the "just-another-metalcore" label to the group.
Overall Impression — 7
Metalcore bands are sprouting from various cities across the United States and beyond but with Deceiver, The Word Alive show they're not another simplistic Vans Warped Tour attraction. Backed by experience and an undeniable collection of talent, the group have polished the beginning of their career with a shiny debut. Now they just need time to stray away from the pop metal hooks that infect the scene they hope to tear apart.